Jeff Gordon flung his Chevrolet through the twisting turns at Infineon Raceway, driving through the dirt, bouncing across the washboard-like curbs and nearly bouncing off a concrete wall coming off the final turn yesterday in Sonoma, Calif.
"We're on a mission," Gordon said after winning the pole for Sunday's NASCAR's Nextel Cup race with a record-breaking lap on the 1.99-mile, 10-turn circuit. "We're not happy with the way things have been going for us lately and all we can do is attack, attack, attack."
Gordon took his second pole in a row, third of the season and 49th of his career with a time of 1 minute 15.968 seconds, breaking the record of 1:16.522 set last year by road-racing specialist Boris Said. Gordon's speed was 94.303 mph.
Gordon chalked up the record to the newly repaved track and a new tire by Goodyear. He was surprised nobody was able to beat a lap he acknowledged wasn't very pretty.
"I felt like I left the door wide open for some of those guys to put us back a few spots," he said.
Gordon was the 10th of 42 drivers who made qualifying attempts for the Dodge/Save Mart 350.
"I got off the track a little bit over there in Turn 2," Gordon said.
"I can't seem to get away from that spot on the racetrack. That's the same thing we did last year, just not quite as far off the track."
NASCAR's leading road race winner with seven victories has won three times here -- twice from the pole.
Rusty Wallace and Kurt Busch also were quicker than Said's record, but couldn't match Gordon.
Wallace, driving a Dodge, was disappointed after running a lap of 1:16.072.
"When I saw [Gordon] go off course over there, I thought I could beat that," Wallace said. "I thought I threw a pole away with that one."
-- From News Services